Week 9 of the NFL season will conclude with a matchup between two longtime AFC East rivals, both of whom are struggling mightily this season. The New England Patriots (2-5, 3rd AFC East) will aim to snap their four-game losing streak when they visit the New York Jets (0-8, 4th AFC East), who are still in search of their first win of the season.
Here is a closer look at Monday night’s game between the Patriots and the Jets, complete with a free pick. New England is a strong 9.5-point favorite according to the latest odds.
By the Numbers
With longtime quarterback Tom Brady gone, the Patriots’ offense is a shell of what it once was. New England is averaging just 19.4 points per game, the fourth-fewest in football.
Their 364.7 yards per game is 21st in the NFL, aided largely by a rushing attack that is gaining close to 160 yards per week. But they have struggled through the air, averaging well under 200 passing yards per game under new quarterback Cam Newton.
New England’s defense was among the best in football in 2019, and this season it’s still fairly strong despite some players leaving in free agency or opting out due to Covid-19. The Pats are allowing just under 24 points per game, 12th in the NFL, while also ranking in the top half of the league in yards allowed.
They’ve been much better against the pass than the run, sitting seventh in passing yards allowed by 28th in rushing yards allowed. Their 39% success rate on stopping opponents on third down is also ninth in the league.
Yes, there have been some injuries this season, particularly to Sam Darnold. But the Jets have the worst offense in football, and it isn’t close. No team is averaging fewer points per game than New York, who is averaging just 11.8 points per contest through eight games.
No team is averaging fewer total yards either, where the Jets get about 283 per game. They’re also dead last in the NFL in passing yards and third-down percentage.
The Jets’ defense isn’t anything to brag about either but ranks much better than their offense across the board. New York is 27th in points allowed with just under 30, ranking 25th with 406.5 total yards allowed. They’re the opposite in the sense of doing better against the run than the pass.
The Jets rank within the top half of the league in rushing yards allowed. They’ve also been decent stopping teams on third down, doing so 41.5% of the time.
If the Jets find a way to get their first win of the season Monday night, it will be against a team that has owned them for a long time. The Patriots have won eight straight games in this rivalry, with New York’s last victory coming in an overtime thriller back in December of 2015.
Since the Jets defeated New England in an AFC Divisional Playoff game back in January 2011, the Pats are 16-2 against Gang Green. Furthermore, in the last five matchups between these clubs, New England has held New York to no more than 14 points scored and six or fewer points three times.
Starting with the road team, the Patriots have a long list of names on the injury report. Two young players on offense, running back J.J. Taylor and wide receiver N’Keal Harry, have already been ruled out for the game. But there are a whopping 17 players who are questionable.
Some of the big names to keep an eye on leading up to kickoff include cornerback Stephon Gilmore, offensive guards Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney, and running back Damien Harris.
The Jets will also have some injuries of their own, particularly to two of their most important players. Both Darnold and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams are listed as doubtful. Veteran Joe Flacco is expected to start ahead of Darnold, who re-injured his shoulder last week against the Chiefs.
Kicker Sam Ficken is also doubtful to play in the game. Among the other eight players listed on New York’s injury report, both wide receiver Jamison Crowder and o-lineman Connor McGovern are questionable after being limited in practice for the last few days.
When making your bets for this game, consider the Patriots average 36 seconds between plays, the second-slowest time in the league. Expect New England to continue to operate slowly, especially with their run-heavy attack. The slow play of the Patriots, coupled with a Jets offense that struggles to score points, inclines me to take the under at 41.5 points, where it currently stands.
As for the game itself, neither of these teams are great against the spread in 2020. New England is 3-4 ATS coming off of covering last Sunday against the Bills, while the Jets covered for the first time this year ATS two weeks ago, also against Buffalo.
This line has moved more and more as the week has gone on, starting at seven points and now moving to the 9.5 it currently sits at. This has the potential to be a 16-7 ballgame, low-scoring, and ugly all the way to the end.
Both teams are struggling at the moment, so I’m not expecting a blowout either way. Give me the Patriots to win and Jets to cover anything that’s 9.5 or greater.
Pick: Jets +9.5, Under 41.5